Musical watches have a very long history that begins with bells — church bells more specifically. Historically speaking it was a luxury to have the time, expensive if one could have it at all. There was a long period when clocks were large affairs, huge machines that could take up part of a building. Small towns in Europe often had one or just a few clocks — if any. Most of which were placed on towers that were part of churches. When people were not paying attention to the clock, they were reminded of what time it was via the church bells. Most bells were rung at regular intervals to tell the time, and were done in an audio code sequence that allowed you to determine what time it was by counting the number of rings.
As timing mechanism become smaller this chiming mechanism found its way into home-based clocks. More intricate models played with the notion of “singing the time.” Clock makers might ad musical components to the function of telling the time in this manner. The tradition of chiming clocks is so strong that today some of the most desirable wrist watches are those with minute repeaters — that perform this classical function. Musical watches are not all minute repeaters though. An alternative method of creating of music in a watch is by combining a timepiece and a music box. This is exactly what Breguet has done with the Réveil Musical watch.
Wearing the Réveil Musical timepieces gives the wearer two options. You can either activate the internal music box manually to play for you, or you can set the music box function to act as an alarm. This latter function is a beautiful combination of complications. The music box itself is a unique interpretation of the traditional pin and cylinder style music box. Breguet developed a disk (to replace the cylinder) and a pin system that uses special materials to enhance the sound quality. The watch even arrives with a special “resonance” wooden box and stand that amplifies the musical complication with the watch placed on it.
A special clef-ended hand is located on the guilloche machine engraved dial. This hand is for setting the alarm along with a crown on the side of the case. In addition to the time, the distinctive Breguet dial has a small window to show whether the alarm has been activated, as well as a power reserve indicator for the movement. This latter indicator is quite useful as it requires a large amount of force to power the 20-25 second long musical complication. Given everything the watch does, the dial is quite clean and minimally cluttered – only the pushers and crowns around the case allude to the complexity of the movement.
Inside the timepiece is a new Calibre 0900 automatic movement that Breguet developed from its existing Calibre 777. The watch case itself is rather large at 48-mm wide, and 16.30-mm thick. No doubt increased space was required in the case for the music box complication. Amazingly Breguet was able to construct the 18k white or yellow gold case with 30 meters of water resistance despite its audio emitting qualities. Aesthetically, the most beautiful part of the watch case is the side. Breguet designed it with a wrapping musical staff complete with notes. Price for the Breguet Réveil Musical watch is $63,400 in yellow gold and $64,300 in white gold.www.breguet.com.
1. 48-mm wide 18-karat yellow or white gold case
2. Power reserve indicator for Breguet automatic movement
3. Side of case decorated with musical staff
4. Hand to set music box alarm function
Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.